Vaginal Hypopigmentation: What You Should Know

Have you noticed changes in the skin color of your vulva?  If so, it’s necessary to check with your doctor because the depigmentation of the skin of the vulva usually indicates the presence of a skin disorder.  But what is vaginal hypopigmentation, and what should you know about it. 

Vaginal Hypopigmentation

Hypopigmentation is a condition in which an area of skin becomes lighter than the surrounding areas.  The hypopigmentation may appear in a symmetrical pattern or as irregularly shaped spots. Vaginal hypopigmentation is often a sign of lichen sclerosus.  

Lichen sclerosus is a non-infectious skin disorder which most often affects the external genitalia in women, causing the whitening of the vulvar tissues.  The tissues also look wrinkly and become thin and fragile and therefore tear easily.  

Vaginal Hypopigmentation

Basics Of Lichen Sclerosus (LS)

The primary symptom of lichen sclerosus is itching, which is often so severe it interrupts sleep and disrupts other activities. 

Medical researchers don’t fully understand the cause of lichen sclerosus, but they believe there is an autoimmune connection. However the connection is not strong enough to warrant an investigation for other autoimmune disorders if in fact you have LS.

Lichen sclerosus is often unrecognized and misdiagnosed because early signs are subtle.  Consequently, patients should consult with a knowledgeable gynecologist, who specializes in lichen sclerosus and other vulvovaginal disorders, to ensure proper treatment. 

Since lichen sclerosus is a progressive disorder, even very mild symptoms should be treated quickly.  Without treatment, lichen sclerosus can cause the vaginal opening to narrow, and lead to scarring of the vulva over time leading to loss of the labia minora.

How Is Lichen Sclerosus Diagnosed?

Lichen sclerosus can be diagnosed by a physical examination of the affected area.   The disorder is generally treated with potent corticosteroids designed to reduce the itch and improve the integrity of the vulva skin.  Once the condition is stabilized, the doctor will switch treatment to low dose corticosteroids to prevent flare-ups.

Lichen sclerosus can be successfully treated and managed in the long-term when diagnosed and treated promptly. 

Are you struggling with vaginal issues that doctors have been unable to diagnose?  Contact the experts in vaginal care at Fowler GYN International (FGI), Phoenix, AZ for a consultation.  FGI was established by Emeritus Mayo Clinic physician, board-certified gynecologist Dr. R. Stuart Fowler. You can reach them at https://www.fowlergyninternational.com/, or by calling (480) 420-4001. 

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